Cover Story: Direct Marketer of the Year: Pamela A. Evans, Senior Web Marketing Manager, IBM Software Group
These days, Evans gets a lot of inspiration from Jon Iwata, IBM senior vice president of marketing and communications. "Within IBM, he's brought the marketing community and the corporate communications community together, and that bridges very closely to my own career," she says. "He's also done a lot of things that I feel are very innovative in terms of driving change across IBM."
For example, thanks to Iwata, IBM has had a number of "online jams" during the past few years, which are forums where IBM employees and customers gather to discuss problems, challenges and ideas in real time. "I feel that kind of outreach and looking for ways to tap into insights in a broad fashion is key," says Evans. In 2006, IBM announced that the company planned to invest $100 million during the next two years to pursue 10 new businesses generated by InnovationJam, the largest online brainstorming session ever, which brought together more than 150,000 participants from 104 countries. During two three-day sessions, participants posted more than 46,000 ideas that used IBM's research technologies to solve real-world problems and take advantage of emerging business opportunities.
The Evolution of IBM Marketing
IBM's approach to direct marketing and Web marketing has been evolving—and broadening. "We've evolved in terms of recognizing that, as a company, we want to be taking advantage of what our customers are looking for, and we want to adjust our marketing programs to adapt to their needs," says Evans. "So, we look at marketing much more as a 360-degree process. It's not any one type of marketing discipline—it's looking more broadly and understanding from all aspects of a customer what their preferences are."
For example, many of IBM's customers prefer to attend face-to-face events, so the company hosts those—such as the Information on Demand Conference, which includes a discussion of the future of information management, networking opportunities and information on IBM's newest software products. Others like to get their information online, which they can easily do, or directly from a business partner. "We have a number of partners that we work with and that ... help extend our reach," says Evans. IBM's software business also uses middleware, which helps connect customers with business partners. And IBM has developed what it calls the "perpetual campaign," which means the company's always available to new prospects and existing customers 24/7 online.